Corridor Digital, also known as Corridor Crew, has created an anime-style short using the power of artificial intelligence.
The production studio has over 9 million YouTube subscribers and is known for its VFX work, popular series of VFX Artists React, and various other videos. With the booming popularity of AI tools, the Corridor team set out to create an anime-styled short of a rock, paper, scissors battle.
Usually, these cartoon or animation projects require a dedicated team and someone with animation experience, so projects such as this are often backed by bigger studios with a lot of money supporting them. However, using AI, Corridor has experimented with a new way to create animation using only a few team members.
AI image processing
There is much talk circling AI-generated content where a simple text prompt can be used to create an image or work of art. Corridor used a similar method, but rather than generating something entirely from scratch, it simply transforms an image of your choice. By using diffusion, the team can input their own photos and have AI alter them. With images, this process works well, however, when applied to video the results constantly flicker and look unpresentable.
Corridor came across various issues when trying to create this new project. First, they had to deal with the constantly changing image noise and the way AI image processing can flip between various styles, almost making the video appear as though it is glitching. To remove this style flickering, stable diffusion was used to convert the images into just one style.
Corridor then uploaded multiple images of the characters they would be featuring, having them pose in various ways on a green screen background. These images were then used to train the AI to know a specific person to ensure that facial features remained faithful to the character rather than continuously altering. With this workflow in place, the team discovered a way to maintain style and character features throughout the project. After applying some VFX skills and adding Deflicker numerous times to the video, vòila – the team had video footage that no longer had strange lighting and flicker problems.
Corridor had nailed down a workflow for the AI tools and could then work on writing scripts for the short and recording the audio. Virtual sets were made using Unreal, and scenes were acted out on the green screen. Utilising AI, combined with 120 VFX shots, this small team was then able to produce a visually striking anime.
The process that Corridor has broken down appears to be an effective workflow that could be used to create animated cartoons with zero animation knowledge. The process could potentially enable a small team or even one person to bring their animation ideas to life.
However, AI tools and workflows such as this raise concerns for professionals in these spaces as they feel it puts their profession at risk. Co-founder of Corridor Niko Pueringer left a comment on the YouTube video regarding this workflow stating, “I see a lot of concern, especially from animators, that tools like this will eventually make them obsolete. This isn’t a replacement for someone that knows how to animate, nor someone who can draw. Tools constantly evolve, but making something visually captivating always requires those same core skills. It still takes an artist to make art. That hasn’t changed.”
Opinions on the video vary, with some seeing potential to change the face of animation by reducing costs and enabling smaller teams to create without big studios’ backing. However, others feel this process takes away from artists and animators who have spent years honing their craft. There are other concerns that while this is an original workflow, the AI tools are still learning from other peoples’ work. In this instance, the AI model was trained to adopt the style of Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, a dark fantasy anime film.
Advancements in artificial intelligence are showing no signs of slowing down and as these tools evolve, there will continue to be questions and concerns regarding their uses. There is massive potential for AI to streamline work processes and make creative projects more accessible for smaller teams, but it still seems there is a way to go to protect artists’ work.